Short essays by Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D., the author of TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage and Devotion, published in September 2011 by Outskirts Press (Parker, CO, USA), available from outskirtspress.com/tingandi, Barnes and Noble [bn.com], and Amazon [amazon.com], in paperback or ebook formats. Please visit us at tingandi.com for more information.
Sunday, November 24, 2019
GOOD GRIEF: Witness to Others What You Have Learned
I don’t know; I think I’d be gloomy without some faith that
there is a purpose and there is a kind of witness to my life.
— John Updike, Novelist
These are words that I take to heart. I
have often thought, what good is it if I kept what I learned and experienced
to myself while I watch others suffer?
We all learn many valuable lessons on
our journey through life. As children, we are taught many lessons about what to
do and how to behave daily. We grow older and learn new lessons as we have
different experiences, some good and some not so good. As parents, we try to
share these lessons with our children, hoping they do not make the same
mistakes we made. Aging occurs, and we learn even more lessons of life. Lessons
that are valuable, but do we recognize the value of these lessons? Do we keep
them to ourselves or do we offer them up to help others?
I have wanted to help others all my
life, with what I knew and what I’ve learned so their lives would be easier,
their suffering not as acute, hoping they’d skip some of the pain in the
process. Yes, I was a compulsive helper in this respect; being a nurse helped
to meet that need. But, I have learned that not everyone loves to hear, “Let me
tell you what I learned, so you don’t make the same mistakes.”
Some, even most, people were not
interested. They wanted to go their own ways, make their own mistakes and live
their own lives. OK, then, I thought, they have a right to run their
own lives. This hurt, but I have always been willing to learn, to try to do
better…even if it took years. And it did.
But what if you could approach this
sharing of life’s lessons in another way? I
thought.I learned that there are many ways to do this that are more
effective and that maintain respect for others.
One way is to be a witness to others. A
witness, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “…one who has
personal knowledge of something, something serving as evidence or proof, public
affirmation by word or example….”
During my journey through my grief and
loss, I learned a lot. Each day, even now, I am learning: how to go on alone,
how to find purpose, how to find peace and joy, how to be brave, how to help
others with what I learned…and to bear witness.
I have always wanted to write a book,
but I never had a clear direction as to the content. The death of my husband
was the stimulus for me to pursue this dream…although I did not recognize it at
first. I was only journaling my thoughts, terrified that I would forget some
part of what occurred. And then, something amazing happened. Interactions with
people during this time stimulated words that became written down as stories
and lessons learned.
Writing this book became my purpose and
a learning opportunity for me about how to share and care for others. In this
book, I tell my story, bearing witness to my journey: the sadness, grief,
humor, progress and setbacks, helpful tips, and encouragement.
I hope you, too, can be a witness to
others who are going through grief and loss. I urge you to provide caring,
compassion, and support…instead of telling others how they should grieve or how
long it should take.
Encourage with gentleness and love those
who are suffering.
With her permission, I am serializing here a near-final version of nurse Cheryl Barrett's valuable book on transcending grief. I had the pleasure of being her coach and editor through my Write Your Book with Me enterprise.
Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD
Perhaps the easiest way to obtain a copy of her book, published by Outskirts Press, is through this